5 Ways to Be More Creative

We’ve all been there before - staring at a blank computer screen, the clock ticking desperately, and trying to come up with a new idea; whether it’s for an assignment or some sort of creative pursuit. I never considered myself a very creative person. I like to read and write, but I am not exactly Jane Austen. I like to doodle on notes, but I am not exactly Frida Kahlo. However, having to write an article every week from Her Campus really forced me to be more creative and come up with ideas I was excited to write about. Last semester, I pushed myself to write two articles each week, and that meant I had to start finding topics I was really interested in and push myself outside my boundaries. I started writing about makeup, fashion, and life (all topics I often did not explore), and I really enjoyed myself. There are still times where I stare at my blank Google Doc willing magic to fill the page,don’t get me wrong, but now I have five tips on what to do when you’re out of ideas.

  1. 1. Take a Walk

    This may seem counterintuitive but bear with me. Staring at a blank page is not exactly inspirational nor is it motivational. Take a break. Go for a walk, pet your dog, call your friend, watch a show, or read a book. Basically, do anything that will get your blood flow going and your mind racing.

  2. 2. Don't Edit Immediately

    Oftentimes, your first idea is not going to be very good. It’s probably going to be bad. It took J.K. Rowling SIX YEARS to write the first Harry Potter book, and I am sure that in six years she edited and edited and wrote and rewrote dozens of times. Focusing on all the flaws in your first draft or first idea is not productive and is only going to stop the creative process. You're not going to write a masterpiece the first time you sit down and neither will anyone else. Esteban Gast, author of Building Your Creativity: Tools For Having Ideas And Bringing Them To Be, refers to this process as “diverge and converge”, so let the ideas come forth and then re-examine them. As a writing tutor and a writer, this is exactly what I do as well. I write my heart out and then go back and fix all the red squiggly lines and edit line by line. If I edited as I went, however, I would be too discouraged to be productive, let alone creative.

  3. 3. Don't Force It

    Desperation does not make you more creative. Much like taking a walk, taking a break in general, can be really helpful. Coming up with a new idea for a project, inspiration for a weekly article, or what to write about in that paper that is due in twelve hours is hard, but screaming into the void will not make it come any faster. Gast, who also teaches a creativity course at the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering, states that “Our students echo what most people say: they come up with great ideas in the shower, driving their car, or on a walk." Be patient with yourself.

  4. 4. Look for Inspiration

    Imagine if you grew up in a vacuum, void of books, popular culture, films, music, conversation, etc. In all likelihood, you would not write Romeo and Juliet or The Great Gatsby. While it is human nature to come up with some form of entertainment and imagination, simply put, life is so much richer when we use the vast amount of inspiration around us. Read books, watch T.V, read other people’s papers, look at art, see what’s trending in the news and social media, and talk to your loved ones. The chances that inspiration is going to strike you in the head like a lightning bolt is less likely than being inspired by a piece of art or a conversation you overheard at the gym. Live and creativity will follow.

  5. 5. See Where Your First Idea Takes You

    We’ve established that your first idea probably isn’t going to be good, but stifling is not productive either. If you can’t let go of an idea, see where it takes you. If you have a concept for a painting that isn’t exactly what you want, sketch it out. If you have a thought for a paper, but it’s not quite right, make an outline. Get that idea out of your head, and try and figure out what’s so special about it. There’s a reason you can’t let go of it.